By Kimberly Cartwright: All I wanted was an ordinary life. I wanted what everyone else seemed to have. I wanted a husband, and I wanted babies, and I suppose I wanted the house with the white picket fence. Yet somehow I arrived at the age of thirty without any of these things. I had gathered a few things through the years though, and to those things I held on quite tightly: bitterness, anger, distrust, and jealously. I held onto them like it was my job.

Then a tragedy happened. Or maybe I should say “miracle.”

Somewhere in my early thirties my vision began to decrease drastically. By the age of thirty-six, I was legally blind. After several visits to doctors who had no answers, I finally found a doctor who told me that I had a condition called keratoconous, a disease that affected the cornea.

My first option was hard contact lenses, and my second option was cornea transplants. I did get fitted for, and wore, hard contact lenses for several years. However, eventually both eyes required transplants. In 2004, I received a donor cornea from an eleven year old girl whose parents had been involved with the donor program. She wanted to be an organ donor and her parents allowed it. In 2007, I received a donor cornea from a fifteen-year-old young man who had died tragically in an accident. Both surgeries have been amazingly successful, and I can see almost 20/20 with corrective lenses.

I cannot begin to explain how blessed I am. I am crying as I write this because I was given a great gift, and I want the world to know that I have taken this gift seriously. I thank God every day for my sight.

Through the years, I have told many people my story, and quite often I receive sympathy for having gone through such a tragic thing. But in the end, what happened to me wasn’t tragic. In fact, I wouldn’t give up my experience for anything.

Having regained my sight, I decided to live my life to the fullest. I finished my Bachelor’s degree in 2009, and will finish my Master of Divinity in May 2013. I have traveled on ministry trips to both Mexico and Lebanon. I even spent a week in Las Vegas with the best friends in the world.

However, while I have learned many lessons in the classroom since my surgeries, the greatest lessons were the ones I learned during all the uncertainty:

  • I learned that I needed people, so I let go of my anger and jealousy.
  • I learned that good friends and family were some of the most important things in life.
  • I learned that I could trust God for all things.
  • I learned that while I had wanted an ordinary life, I was meant to live an extraordinary one.

Because of God’s grace, I was given a second chance to define a life beyond just ordinary ─ a life full of promise. And I will continue to live out this second chance life to the very fullest.

How have second chances taken your life from ordinary to extraordinary?

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